North Star (organization)

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North Star's Logo

North Star is an organization for believing LGBT Mormons.[1] Its stated mission is to "provide a place of community for Latter-day Saints who experience homosexual attraction or gender identity incongruence, as well as their family, friends, and ecclesiastical leaders."[2] It supports the teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the law of chastity, which prohibits sexual relationships outside of a legal marriage between one man and one woman. The organization takes "no official position on the origin or mutability of homosexual attractions or gender identity incongruence",[2] and does not "endorse political causes or join political coalitions, including those officially sanctioned by the [LDS] Church."[3]

North Star (founded in 2007) holds four yearly evening meetings in Utah.[4] The meetings include several speakers and musical numbers with refreshments served afterwards, and are called firesides (separate from, but similar to, LDS firesides).[5] It also sponsors several email discussion groups that focus on several demographics, including youth, young adults, men, married men, couples, married women, survivors of sexual abuse, those with HIV or AIDS, sexual addiction recovery for men, and a group around transgender, intersex, or gender identity issues.[6] In addition to the firesides, North Star sponsors annual conferences, couples retreats, fundraising events,[4] and the Women of Worth conferences for heterosexual women in mixed-orientation marriages.[7] The largest discussion group is the general private Facebook group with hundreds of members.

The organization does not take a position on political issues, but has spoken out against using suicide of gay Mormons to promote personal political agendas.[8] They have also said that heterosexual marriages among some of its members should not be taken as evidence that sexual orientation is chosen or changeable.[citation needed] Evergreen International, a long-standing organization that helped "people who want to diminish same-sex attractions and overcome homosexual behavior,"[9] announced that, starting January 1, 2014, it would be absorbed into North Star.[10]

Involvement with reparative therapy[edit]

Although the organization does not officially endorse any therapy, two cofounders of North Star,[11] Ty Mansfield (President as of 2015) and Jeff Bennion (Chair of the Board of Directors as of 2015),[12][13] were heavily involved[14] in the for-profit[15] reparative therapy organization People Can Change (PCC) and its Journey Into Manhood (JiM) and Journey Beyond (JB) weekends,[16][17] and have allowed and participated in PCC's promotions in North Star online groups, pages,[18][19][20] and its yearly conferences.[21] Michael Ferguson stated that North Star became a clearinghouse for vetting and recruiting men into reparative therapy because of the leadership's involvement.[22] Many prominent members and leaders of North Star (such as those featured in TLC's "My Husband's Not Gay"[23]) were involved in reparative therapy,[24][25][26][27][28] and board members Preston Dahlgreen and Jeff Bennion defended the Jewish reparative therapy organization JONAH in the 2015 court case Ferguson v. JONAH.[29][30][31] After the trial Mansfield stated that they no longer give endorsements of PCC online or at conferences.[32]

Voices of Hope project[edit]

Voices of Hope Logo

In 2012, North Star sponsored the launch of the Voices of Hope Project to share the stories of active members of the LDS church that experience same-sex attraction[33] The site features essays and over 70 video interviews.[34] A sister project on gender identity and transgender experiences titled "Journeys of Faith" was launched in 2015.[35]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ High-ranking LDS leader weighs in on same-sex attraction
  2. ^ a b "Mission & Values". North Star International. 
  3. ^ "FAQ". North Star International. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Firesides". North Star International. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Wen, Eden. "Faithful LDS members attend fireside on same-sex attraction". BYU Universe Newspaper. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Email Discussion Groups". North Star International. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Women of Worth
  8. ^ Samuels, Diana (2010-02-26), "Memorial held for gay Mormon who committed suicide in Los Altos", San Jose Mercury News 
  9. ^ "Evergreen International home page". Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  10. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher (January 2, 2014), "Longtime support group for gay Mormons shuts down", The Salt Lake Tribune 
  11. ^ "Who We Are". northstarlds.org. North Star International. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  12. ^ Bennion, Jeff. "North Star's New Leadership Structure is Taking Us to the Next Level". northstarlds.org. North Star International. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  13. ^ "Leadership Team". northstarlds.org. North Star International. 
  14. ^ "Nightline: Journey Into Manhood". ABC News. 8 Nov 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2017.  You can see Mansfield and Bennion featured in this ABC Nightline report on Journey Into Manhood as well as North Star Board of Directors member Pret Dahlgren
  15. ^ Potok, Mark; Schlatter, Evelyn. "Quacks: 'Conversion Therapists,' the Anti-LGBT Right, and the Demonization of Homosexuality" (PDF). splcenter.org. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 26 March 2017. 
  16. ^ Wolfe, Sam (29 August 2015). "Gay-conversion therapy should be exposed for what it is, consumer fraud". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 26 March 2017. 
  17. ^ "Journey Into Manhood Weekend by People Can Change". brothersroad.org. Brothers Road (formerly People Can Change). Retrieved 26 March 2017.  See time 2:50 of the video linked under "Journey Into Manhood Experiential Weekend"
  18. ^ Mansfield, Ty. "Becoming Dis-illusioned about "Reparative Therapy" and "Sexual Reorientation"—Part 1". ldslights.org. North Star International. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  19. ^ "Calendar". northstarlds.org. North Star International. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  20. ^ Bennion, Jeff. "Personal thoughts on the Journey Into Manhood Weekend". ldslights.org. North Star International. Retrieved 26 March 2017. 
  21. ^ Dark, Stephen (4 June 2014). "Dialogue and Dogma". Copperfield Publishing Inc. Salt Lake City Weekly. Retrieved 26 March 2017. 
  22. ^ Dobner, Jennifer (27 September 2017). "Ex-Utahn's journey from Mormon counseling to 'abusive' reparative therapy and, ultimately, a happy gay marriage". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  23. ^ "7 members of the North Star community to be featured in TLC special, "My Husband's Not Gay"". ldslights.org. North Star International. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  24. ^ Moore, Tyler. "Clarifying North Star's Position on Changing Orientation". northstarlds.org. North Star International. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  25. ^ Pierce, Scott D. (8 January 2015). "Utahns in 'My Husband's Not Gay' promote discredited 'conversion therapy'". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  26. ^ Collman, Ashley (11 January 2015). "Three stars of controversial show 'My Husband's Not Gay' are spokesmen for discredited 'conversion therapy'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  27. ^ Ford, Zack. "Quick Verdict In The Case Against Ex-Gay Therapy". thinkprogress.org. ThinkProgress. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  28. ^ Bensen, Wayne. "TLC Show was Part of Cynical 'Ex-Gay' Rebranding Campaign". truthwinsout.org. Truth Wins Out. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  29. ^ Wolfe, Sam (29 August 2015). "Gay-conversion therapy should be exposed for what it is, consumer fraud". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 26 March 2017. 
  30. ^ Potok, Mark; Schlatter, Evelyn. "Quacks: 'Conversion Therapists,' the Anti-LGBT Right, and the Demonization of Homosexuality" (PDF). splcenter.org. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 26 March 2017. 
  31. ^ "Ferguson v. JONAH – Unofficial Trial Transcripts". eqcf.org. Equality Case Files. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  32. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher (27 September 2015). "Conversion therapies don't work, experts say, so why do gay Mormons still seek them out?". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 26 March 2017. 
  33. ^ "About Voices of Hope". LDS Voices of Hope. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  34. ^ "Voices of Hope Videos and Essays". LDS Voices of Hope. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  35. ^ "Journeys of Faith". LDS Journeys of Faith. North Star. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 

External links[edit]